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CSOs demand breakdown of FG’s N30.5bn COVID-19 expenditure

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and Connected Development, have asked the Federal Government to give the details of how it spent N30.5bn in four months to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Director, SERAP, Kolawole Oludare, said in a statement that the demand for details of the spending followed the reply of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, to an earlier Freedom of Information request jointly made by SERAP and CODE.

Oludare, revealed that the Accountant-General of the Federation, Idris disclosed this in an undated letter, told SERAP and CODE that the Federal Government spent N30,540,563,571.09 between April and July to tackle the pandemic.

He said the amount represented 84 per cent of the N36.3bn public COVID-19 funds and donations received by the Federal Government, adding that there was a balance of N5.9bn

SERAP said the accountant-general’s letter indicated “the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 spent N22bn; while the 36 states spent N7bn on COVID-19.”

It added that the Nigerian Air Force spent N877m on the deployment of assets in support of COVID-19 operations; the police spent N500m on personal protective equipment; while N17, 865.09 was paid as bank charges.

While commending Idris for honouring the FoI request, SERAP and CODE, however, urged him to respond to other information requested in the FoI letter, including the specific projects on which the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 spent N22bn and the list of Nigerians, who benefitted from the projects, Punch reported.

The groups said, “It is refreshing to note that 115 ordinary Nigerians donated between N1 and N100 to support the authorities’ efforts to fight COVID-19, despite the fact that it is the country’s poorest and most disadvantaged sectors of the population that continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of the N36.3 billion public funds and donations received, N1.4 billion came from Nigerians and companies through accounts at the First Bank; Access Bank; GTB, Zenith, and UBA, while N536 million donations were made through the Central Bank of Nigeria. The N536 million donations comprise of N89 million and N279 million from the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.

“In addition, China General Chambers of Commerce in Nigeria donated N48 million; the Petroleum Equalisation Management Board gave N50 million while the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board donated N70 million.

“We would be grateful if the requested details and additional information are provided to us within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP and CODE shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to compel you to comply with our request.”

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